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ENGINEERING AND FAMINE RELIEF            271

the eastern coast of Cfaekiang preferred to cross the bay at Lungshaa,
but those who came down the Chientang from the south-west districts
had to take the risks. Drowning men and children were seen crying
fay help, and were swallowed up by the current before anybody could
do anything about it. The Hangchow river traffic, however, was im-
portant. The people in the poor south-western districts depended upon
rice grown in the kke district north of Hangchow, while the people
of Hangchow themselves depended on the south-west for fuel Salt
also was produced in the Hangchow Bay and transported to the south-
western region. A heavy traffic went on, in spite of the danger, and
the cost of transportation was greatly increased because the agencies
bnd to give their employees large gifts in compensation for the risks.
úThe invisible loss to the country amounted to "millions of dollars".

This problem Su Tungpo tried to solve, with the aid of someone
who was familiar with the whole valley of Chientang. The new plan
was designed to take the boat traffic to Hangchow by a route passing
above the dangerous point. Su Tungpo had a project worked out which
would cost $150,000, employ 3,000 labourers, and take two years to
finish. It involved channelling the Chientang into a new course for
eight miles, deep enough for navigation; building a stone embank-
ment two and three-quarter miles long, and tunnelling a hill 615 feet
through. Unfortunately, he had to leave Hangchow when the plan
just being completed.

Meanwhile he was overwhelmingly busy with another and more
pressing problem, the threat of a coming famine. There had been a
failure of crops in the year he arrived. The price of rice had risen from
60 cash a bushel in July to 95 cash in November. Luckily, there
were grain reserves in the price stabilisation granaries, and he had
succeeded in getting a grant of 200,000 piculs (i picul equals 10
bushels). By selling 180,000 piculs of government rice, he had been
able to stabilise the price and bring it down to 75 cash per bushel
in January 1090. The spring of that year was rainy but looked very
promising. The farmers borrowed money to improve their laud in full
expectation of a good harvest in summer. Then in May and June a
heavy storm with a steady downpour broke over Hangchow and
most of the lake district. Flood broke into the city of Huchow, and
there was one foot of water in the people's homes. All the farmers*
hopes were destroyed and, as any man with common sense could see,
they were threatened' with starvation when their grain reserves should
run out. Su Tungpo sent out inspectors to investigate the conditions
at Soochow and Changchow, and received reports that the wlK)ie
region had been inundated. Dams had been broken, and some oi the
rice-fields were buried under water. Farmers were going about in